NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — As summer shines on Nellis AFB the 99th Force Support Squadron Youth Center moves into full swing.
For children ages 6 to 18 the youth center provides a safe and fun learning environment throughout the summer.
“We are here to provide a safe learning environment for our children where they can grow socially and academically. We provide different clubs, fieldtrips, outings [and] we do community service with our kids,” said Cheryl Zollner, 99th FSS training curriculum specialist. “The goal is to help, working with the schools [and] the parents, to create a well-rounded child, somebody that’s going to be able to go further in life and experience different things.”
According to Zollner the youth center works hard to provide services and programs for the children that parents may not find anywhere else.
“We offer them things they wouldn’t normally get in school. In school they might touch on sculpting, here we can actually do sculpting for six weeks if we wanted to,” Zollner said. “Everything we do is based off the interests of the children. We ask them ‘what do you guys want to do this month, what activities are you interested in, what hobbies do you have and where have you gone that you want to learn more about?’” The youth center hopes by providing these services they will be able to benefit Airmen, their children and the overall Air Force.
“Primarily, we have to meet the needs of the military families and the youth so parents can take care of the mission, that way they’re comfortable in knowing their kids are being taken care of. Obviously if you have to worry about your kids you’re not focused on the jet plane or whatever [their job might be],” said Carol Padilla, 99th FSS youth programs director. “By taking care of the families as a whole we are able to [succeed in that goal].
“With day-to-day activities and the camps we’ve got going on, there’s something for everyone.”
The youth center staff strives to let families know they are more than a babysitting service.
“We are very engaged with our kids, they’re not here to be babysat, that’s not what we’re providing. Yes, [we do] cover the hours parents are at work [but] everything we plan for these kids is to help enrich their lives,” Zollner said. “We’re not here to plop them in front of a something and [say] ok you do that [and] I’ll see you later. We want them engaged in activities, we want them learning different things and picking up social skills. The only way you’re going to do that is by engaging with the other people around you.
“It’s more than just coming in, dropping your kids off and saying ’ok see you later.”
The youth center ensures all staff members are able to meet their expectations by providing them with all the mandatory training to include first aid, CPR and child abuse response.
“We provide in-house training,” Zollner said. “It’s a 13 module program with two additional modules focusing on child abuse, so all of our staff are very well trained on privacy act, child abuse, food handlers training, how to transport our kids [social skills of children, creative program environments] and computer safety. [We provide them] anything they would need in order to provide a safe environment for these kids.”
When looking for summer activities for your children don’t forget the Nellis youth center is a safe and educational environment focused on children.
For information on summer opportunities for children call the 99th FSS Youth Center at (702) 652-9307.